DORA GOLF COURSE INTEGRATED ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN. April 2007 March 2010

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1 DORA GOLF COURSE INTEGRATED ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN April 2007 March 2010 An overview of the Dora Golf Course Environment and a Strategy for its conservation and enhancement as part of Fife Council s 7 Course Strategy With assistance from Hole 18 Consulting and the Scottish Golf Environment Group

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3 CONTENTS Page PART ONE AIMS 1. Introduction 5 2. Vision for the Golf Course 7 3. Aims 7 4. Purpose of the Environmental Management Plan 8 5. Implementation of the Plan 9 PART TWO SUMMARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES 6. General Site Details Environmental Management Planning Golf Course Maintenance Summary of Current Practices Nature Conservation Survey and Evaluation of Wildlife and Habitats Landscape and Cultural Heritage Assessment and Evaluation Waste and Energy Management Summary of Current Practices Communications, Education and the Workplace 64 PART THREE FUTURE POLICIES & MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES 13. Dora Golf Course Environmental Policies Environmental Management Planning Golf Course Maintenance Nature Conservation Wildlife and Habitats Landscape and Cultural Heritage Waste and Energy Management Communications, Education and the Workplace 78 APPENDICES 81 ACKNOWLEDEGMENTS 81 3

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5 PART ONE AIMS 1. Introduction: Dora is one of seven municipal golf courses owned and managed by Fife Council. The course is located on the eastern edge of the old mining town of Cowdenbeath, with typical Fife agricultural landscape of mixed arable and grazing beyond. The course is fairly flat with a little undulation. It lies at 130m above sea level at its highest point, in the centre of the course. The rest of the 79ha course slopes away gently in all directions to a lowest point of 125m above sea level. Figure 1. Location Map Obtained from OS Getamap website location of golf course 5

6 Figure 2. Course Boundary Obtained from OS Getamap website golf course boundary The golf course provides relatively stable and long term management of an area of greenspace, which not only functions as a recreational venue but also valuable wildlife habitat for a range of flora and fauna. This range of wildlife, (or biodiversity as it is often called), depends upon the golf course for habitat, and in turn, how valuable that habitat is depends upon the actions of those who look after it and their decisions for the future management and development of the course. Fortunately, what is good for the golfer is often good for the local environment. This is clearly illustrated by the importance all round the course of the tree planting, rough grass, and the burn both in and out of play. Not only do all these variously add character, definition, shelter, backdrops, distance markers, challenge and texture to the course, they also make up a significant part of the wildlife habitat in the area. The overall golf course habitat is already important due to its size, diversity and continuity, and can be further enhanced by enrichment, expansion and increased connectivity through appropriate management. 6

7 In turn, the mosaic of natural and managed habitats that make up Dora Golf Course results in it being a valuable part of the mosaic of habitats and land use in the wider environment in this part of Fife. This value is worth both preserving and enhancing, which can be achieved in many ways, often at little cost and sometimes even cost- and labour-saving. The Environment has become increasingly important at Dora, as it has generally in Scotland s golf sector. This Management Plan seeks to pull together all the environmental information about the course to record work that has been done to date and to plan for the protection of the course environment over the next 3 years in the first instance. The main users of the course come on a pay and play basis, with there being at least 200 season ticket holders. Cowdenbeath Golf Club itself has 140 members. It leases the Clubhouse from Fife Council and is responsible for its management. 2. Vision for the golf course: Fife Council through its Members and Officers and Partnerships is committed to minimising the environmental impacts of its activities and improving the local environment. As part of this policy it is vital to maintain the environment and promote the wildlife of all Golf Courses, achieving some of these aims by enhancing the character and ambience of the course, for the benefit of the golfer, visitors, local residents and the wider community. This Integrated Management Plan is set within the context of the Fife Council Local Biodiversity Action Plan (Appendix 1.) 3. Aims: 3.1 Environmental Management Planning The Council aims to ensure a forward thinking and integrated approach to management issues affecting the whole site through a programme of successive management plans developed through a team approach, effective consultation and regular review. 3.2 Golf Course Maintenance To produce the best possible surfaces for golf for as close to 12 months per year as is possible. To present the course for play on full greens and tees for the longest practical period per year. To manage the golf course in a sustainable and low environmental impact manner, by employing best environmental practice and sound greenkeeping practices both traditional and modern. 7

8 3.3 Nature Conservation Conserve and enhance the biodiversity of the golf course through ongoing, informed management of species and habitats and thereby contribute to the aims of the Fife Local Biodiversity Action Plan and other relevant Initiatives. 3.4 Landscape and Cultural Heritage Based on research of the landscape qualities of the golf course, to ensure that actions are evaluated and designed with regard to their potential impact on the character of the golf course and its surrounds. To acknowledge the importance of the area's archaeology and landscape history and, through appropriate advice, undertake sensitive management. 3.5 Waste and Energy Management To minimise the amount of waste produced by Fife Council in the operational activities on Dora Golf Course and to ensure that all handling and disposal practices meet with best environmental practice and legal obligation. To minimise the amount of energy consumption by Fife Council in the operational activities on Dora Golf Course and to ensure maximum energy efficiency in all operations concerning the site. 3.6 Communications, Education and Awareness Internal - involve and inform managers, green-staff and Cowdenbeath Golf Club in the ongoing environmental issues and management of the golf course. External - recognise, and seek to co-operate positively on local environmental and community issues through appropriate partnerships. 4. Purpose of this Integrated Environmental Management Plan: 4.1 To summarise the wide range of environmental issues relevant to Dora Golf Course. 4.2 To maintain and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of Dora Golf Course through: taking an holistic, integrated approach to managing the playing area and surrounding environment; identifying and maintaining existing good practice; avoiding unwitting environmental mis-management; and increasing knowledge and understanding amongst users, management and staff of Dora Golf Course. 4.3 Through partnerships, to identify sources of advice, funding and other resources. 8

9 4.4 To improve forward planning and co-ordination of available resources. 4.5 To facilitate active participation in other golfing and environmental initiatives e.g. Scottish Golf Environment Initiative, BIGGA Golf Environment Competition and Golf Environment Europe (formerly Committed to Green). 5. Implementation of the Plan: 5.1 This Integrated Environmental Management Plan is designed to document the future management and development of Dora Golf Course. The conservation of Landscape Character and Nature Conservation are concerns for Fife Council, which recognises that a longer term, Integrated Management Plan is required to ensure that the management of the course is sympathetic to the Landscape and Ecological needs of the area. 5.2 The Council believes that there is potential to reconcile the needs of the golfer with those of the environment, and will strive to ensure that all management practices conform to best environmental practice. For this reason the Management Plan goes beyond recognition of Landscape and Ecological quality, and specific action in these areas. It takes a holistic look at golf course management, taking into account environmentally sensitive Waste Management and Turf Management practices. It also details a programme of action to raise awareness of the area s environmental attributes, and the ways in which the Council is striving to ensure best practice in all areas of its work. The programme will attempt to communicate this within the Council and also to course user groups - ensuring environmental issues are at the forefront of the Council s management planning for the course, and also make visitors, local community and other interest groups more aware of their local environment. 5.3 Through liaison with the Scottish Golf Environment Group (SGEG), the Council can contribute to the promotion of environmentally sensitive golf course design and management. 5.4 The Council recognises that this Integrated Management Plan is an essential component of its operations. It is the key to ensuring that the full range of environmental issues relating to the management of the course are properly documented, evaluated and understood. Through this process the Council can ensure that future actions will be appropriate, and not unwittingly detrimental. 5.5 Although this document is an important aspect of the Council s commitment to environmental stewardship, it recognise that it is only one component part. A Management Plan is only as good as that which it achieves. As such the Council is aware that: the Management Plan will have to be circulated for consultation with relevant parties prior to implementation; 9

10 the Council will give the final plan its full and unconditional endorsement and ensure that it will be continually drawn upon by successive managers and greenstaff; golf course users should have access to the Management Plan and other supporting information, to assist in the process of education. Without their understanding of the intricacies of course management the Council may face opposition over key aspects of environmental protection and enhancement; annual Action Plans will be prepared from this Management Plan, and these will be agreed by the listed consultees prior to implementation; and this Management Plan is set up initially for three years. At the end of this period, the Plan and its implementation will be formally reviewed by the Council. The Management Plan will also be updated and revised at this point, in consultation. 5.6 The following sections of the Plan look in detail at each of the Environmental issues addressed by the Council. The Plan has been categorised in this way to provide a clearer structure for the implementation of specific actions and to make it as readable and easily understandable as possible. This will result in greater understanding within the Council, user groups and greenstaff. Although the issues are categorised, and shown as discrete sections, this is an integrated management plan, in which many of the issues and actions are interrelated. Environmental issues are often interrelated with golf, and are often related to each other. For example, tree planting and rough grassland will affect the golfer, landscape character and ecology and therefore need to be considered carefully with all of these aspects in mind. 10

11 PART TWO SUMMARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES 6. General Site Details: 6.1 Background Dora is one of seven municipal golf courses owned and managed by Fife Council. The first nine holes were established in 1991 from reclaimed opencast coal mining. A 9-hole extension was opened in 1998 from surrounding farmland. The 18-hole course now extends to some 79 hectares including woodland areas. The original hole numbering on the first nine changed following the extension. The present layout as presented on the scorecard is shown below in Figure 3. Figure 3. Course Layout Overall responsibility for Dora Golf Course lies with Fife Council Community Services, Parks and Amenities, although the day-to-day management of the course is maintained by 3 members of greenkeeping staff. The main users of the course are pay-and-play golfers, with at least 200 season ticket holders whilst Cowdenbeath Golf Club with about 140 members leases and manages the clubhouse on site. There are currently about 16,000 rounds of golf at Dora each year, representing an increased usage over the past 8 years. 11

12 The following information was achieved using recent GPS mapping of the course. m 2 ha % Greens (incl practice green) Tees Grass (fairways, semi and long rough) Scrub/tree planting Total Soils On the original 9 holes (now holes 1, 2 and 12 to18), the soil is only 5-6 inches depth of imported loamy material lying over shale and coal spoil. Whilst this is fine for grass, it is limiting on tree growth. On the new 9 holes (3 to11) the soil is original to the site a mix of good loam and blue clay in different areas with black shaley coal substrate below. The greens and tees on the original nine holes are push-up construction made of imported soil. The greens and tees on the newer nine holes are sand construction, supposedly to USGA standard but probably not actually so in practice. 6.3 Drainage The original 9 holes are fairly well drained, including the greens and tees. The fairways are drained with a variety of clay and plastic pipes. The newer 9 holes are much more poorly drained, although since its construction, the worst areas have been identified and local drainage solutions installed during the winter months using perforated plastic pipe. 6.4 Climate and Climate change The climate on the East of Scotland and especially Fife is getting milder and wetter particularly in the winter, whilst growing seasons are getting slightly longer. Being on the eastern side of the country it is relatively dry in Scottish terms. According to the local weather station for the Fife area, rainfall lies between 45 and 85 mm per month, driest in February and April and wettest in August to November. The temperature range is usually 0 to 18 C. In the winter, temperatures can range from 6 to +10 C. In the summer, daytime temperatures typically range between 14 and 23 C. Climate change is also expected to bring greater seasonal extremes and windier conditions mainly in autumn and winter. All this will have a significant effect on turf growth and quality and consequently the playability of the course. It is important that management of the course anticipates the impact these changes will have over the coming decades by setting in place management policies that will help the course adapt over time. Golf is one of man s activities which is intricately associated with the natural environment and therefore heavily influenced by climate. We all know that Nature does not stand still, both in its effects and consequences, and climate change, whether 12

13 or not brought on or sped up by man s activities, is currently seen as one of the biggest challenges ahead for the world as a whole. In Scotland, all predictions point to significant changes in weather patterns over the next fifty to a hundred years, to different degrees north, south, east and west. The picture ahead is that of a wetter, milder, windier Scotland. In short, that will mean more rain, which in turn will overall mean wetter land and more water in rivers and streams. With it will come rising sea and river levels and consequently higher water tables and associated drainage problems. The changes will not come all at once, but gradually over the years. Climate change will have consequences for all, and directly so for all land-based activities - including golf. Many golf courses across Scotland are experiencing wetter conditions than ever before, and extended growing seasons. Equally there may sometimes be more protracted periods of droughty weather than previously. A this pattern is set to get worse, any club experiencing problems now to do with water and drainage management can expect to have even more to deal with in the future. The challenge for these clubs will certainly be to plan ahead and not wait to respond as circumstances overtake them. This will not necessarily require or lead to major action overnight or at all, but will set a framework for addressing and reviewing the situation over time depending on priorities and available resources. 6.5 Public access Being public land, Dora Golf Course has been open to public access even before the golf course was in place due to the two rights of way that crossed the site from Lochgelly to Cowdenbeath and Lumphinnans to Cowdenbeath. Both routes are well used with the latter really the only route where some problems occur with walkers, litter, vandalism and dog dirt. Presently due to changes with legislation regarding rights of access, Fife Council Community Services Countryside Rangers are working on identification of Core pathways, (the Council s role in the National Access Strategy) which include both these routes. Consultation will follow where changes are required, which could impact on concerned parties. Both routes are fully maintained by the Council. The golf course therefore has a very important role in providing part of a logical and manageable network of public access for local residents. The present arrangements work well, but as part of health and safety, the Council has a Duty of Care towards all users of the course, who in turn have a duty of care to other users. 13

14 Figure 4. Public Access - Rights if Way Rights of way 14

15 7. Environmental Management Planning Summary of Current Practices: Fife Council s stated aim for Environmental Management Planning at Dora is: The Council aims to ensure a forward thinking and integrated approach to management issues affecting the whole site through a programme of successive management plans developed through a team approach, effective consultation and regular review. 7.1 Fife s Seven Course Initiative Up to now relatively little emphasis has been placed specifically on integrated management planning for Dora (or indeed the other courses under the auspices of Fife Council). As a consequence, the approach taken to date has probably, as on many golf courses, focussed on management of the playing area for golf, with other nonstatutory environmental issues and impacts either being accepted, unrecognised, ignored or perhaps mainly dealt with on an as and when basis. However, over recent years, local authorities have increasingly been taking steps to promote and practise improved environmental standards generally, both in respect of their own actions and what they require or can persuade others to do. Best Value and a sustainable future are increasingly what councils are setting as their benchmark. As such, management practices can no longer be developed on a single-issue basis at the expense of the wider gamut of issues that affect sustainability. They must now be looked at in the round. Typically, this will involve examining and improving energy, water, waste and other resource management, biodiversity, pollution, communication and consultation, amongst many socio-environmental issues. Consequently, Fife Council has developed environmental strategies and policies to help deliver these aims. These are the main points of reference for developing and tailoring environmental management policies, aims and objectives for Fife Council s seven golf courses including Dora, collectively in the 7 Course Strategy and individually through separate Management Plans for each course such as this one. This process accords well with the Take a Pride in Fife State of the Environment Reports and SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment). See Appendices 2 and 3. Whilst the Seven Course Initiative is being directed at a strategic level through a group comprising the relevant department and area managers, at the individual course level, the involvement of greenstaff is vital, and some participation from golfers and other users, highly desirable. The intention is to put mechanisms in place to enable and encourage working groups to (1) operate effectively in the environmental programme themselves and (2) to tap more widely into relevant expertise either within or outwith the Council, such as LBAP officers, countryside rangers, access officers, landscape specialists, waste officers, local historians etc. This expertise will be of use in strategic long term planning as well as on individual projects and actions and good communications and shared awareness amongst all stakeholders is fundamental to this. 15

16 7.2 What is an Integrated Management Plan An Integrated Management Plan is one which guides site management in an holistic rather than single-issue way, seeing and dealing with the implications of issues and actions from multiple perspectives. This Integrated Management Plan for Dora provides: (a) a review and assessment of past and current practices across a wide range of environmental issues, with due attention to their interdependence (b) pulling together collective advice from all perspectives, prioritising and tailoring recommendations to suit the site; (c) identifying and allocating available resources; and (d) scheduling a programme of implementation that is practical, realistic and achievable. It will act both as a record and reference, and will give a positive and progressive steer to the way the course functions in the future. Moreover, in the long term, it will aid communication and continuity in the event of changes in personnel. A site layout plan is an extremely useful tool in developing and implementing an Integrated Management Plan. It provides an ideal way of mapping and monitoring plans and actions as the management plan progresses, and a useful visual means of communication to others. Photography will also give valuable recording and monitoring assistance over time. Aerial photographs available under copyright to Fife Council have been used to present information throughout this Management Plan. The fact that Fife Council has good digital mapping facilities (GIS) will be a very valuable tool for Dora in mapping different issues which can be looked at individually or layered to see the combined effect. Maps, surveys, reports, habitat management plans etc are either attached or stored elsewhere and cited as Appendices to this Management Plan. Management Plans for Golf Courses are typically set up to cover a 3 to 5 year period. Fife Council has adopted a 3-year system to tie in with Council funding periods and 3-year review period of the Scottish Awards Scheme for Environmental Excellence on Golf Courses. 7.3 SGEG Environmental Award Scheme One of Fife Council s ambitions is to improve the environmental management of its seven municipal courses to a level at which some or all of them could apply for the Scottish Award for Environmental Excellence on Golf Courses soon or over the next few years. In order to dovetail future course management with the Award Scheme, those categories of the Award Scheme to be aimed for form the basis of this Management Plan. The six categories within the Award Scheme are: 16

17 Environmental Management Planning Turfgrass and Water Nature Conservation Landscape and Cultural Heritage Waste and Energy Communications, Education and the Workplace Although SGEG s aim is to promote best practice across the board on golf courses, many activities are regulated by law anyway. SGEG s Environmental Award Scheme includes declaration by the applicant club, or in this case Fife Council, that they are aware of the relevant environmental legislation in each of the award categories and of their full compliance with it. Appendix 4 gives a schedule of some of the main legislation applicable to the management of the golf course at November 2006 which will be updated as new legislation comes into being. The Award Criteria are presented in Appendix 5. For Dora the Environmental Programme is being administered via the Dora Golf Course Environment Group (DEG) which comprises George Lawrie, Parks Operation Officer, John McQueen, Parks Superviser and Stephen Bell, Head Greenkeeper. DEG will take issues from the environment programme to the monthly Greens Committee meetings to discuss matters regularly with the Club. 17

18 8. Golf Course Maintenance Summary of Current Practices: Fife Council s stated aim for Golf Course Maintenance at Dora is: To produce the best possible surfaces for golf for as close to 12 months per year as is possible. To present the course for play on full greens and tees for the longest practical period per year. To manage the golf course in a sustainable and low environmental impact manner, by employing best environmental practice and sound green keeping practices both traditional and modern. In 2006, Fife Council commissioned Hole-18 Consulting to produce a 7 Course Strategy to guide the future management of Fife s municipal golf courses according to best golf and environmental practice (Appendix 6.) Whilst the main focus is on fine turf maintenance, broad guidance is given on the playing area and its general setting. Water and Waste-water Management 8.1 Water and Wastewater Management This is a very important aspect of resource management in environmental and social terms. There is an imperative to use water efficiently both from a turf and social perspective, and an equally great obligation to dispose of all waste water responsibly and avoid pollution of the natural environment Water Sourcing All water used on the golf course and clubhouse is mains sourced, metered separately for the course and the clubhouse. Water rates were 1,797 for 2006, including wastewater charges Surface / Wastewater The clubhouse is connected to the mains sewer, as is the maintenance facility including washbay water. Surface run-off from the course goes into two open ditches at the 1 st /2 nd holes, and alongside the Lochgelly right of way, which discharges eventually into the Kirkford Burn at Cowdenbeath Irrigation System There is a large water tank for storing irrigation water. Automatic Pop Up irrigation is supplied to greens and tees. Other areas are irrigated by hose if required. The total area irrigated is 2.5 ha which represents 3.2% of the total golf course area. The irrigation system is maintained by TIS under contract. 18

19 Turfgrass and Playing Area 8.2 Turfgrass Management Greens (Total area 1.28 hectares including practice green) Construction: The old nine greens (holes1, 2 and are sand based with a low percentage soil content. The new greens (holes 3-11) are constructed with rootzone. Grass species: There is a high percentage of bent grasses plus some fescue as well as some poa annua (annual meadow grass). Fertiliser: Product Type (NPK, minerals Rate g/m 3 Frequency and trace elements) Spring/Summer % Mg 30 g/m 2 3 applications Autumn/Winter % Fe 30 g/m applications This fertiliser programme has proved beneficial over the past few years and given good results. Fungicide: Disease Location Treatment Rate Fusarium Fine grass areas Rovral flo 1000ml to 500m 2 Red thread Rimidin 500ml to 500m 2 Herbicide: none. Any weeds are removed manually. Mowing: Season Frequency Cutting Height April - June 3-5 days per week 5 mm July October 3-5 days per week 4 mm November - March As required 6 mm Scarification: 2 times per year Aeration and surface drainage: - 1 hollow core per year; solid tine 10 times per year Switching and brushing: daily dew removal, worm casts Overseed and top dress: - 2 times per year Spiking: no spiker at present 19

20 Hollow coring on the 11 th green, September Tees (Total area 1.19 hectares) Construction: 1, 2 and 12 to 18 tees constructed from imported soil, with good drainage; 3-11 tees constructed from imported soil, average drainage and irregular shapes Grass species: 1, 2 and 12 to18 tees have bent fescue mix; 3 to 11 tees have annual meadow grass/ryegrass mix Fertiliser: Type (NPK, Rate g/m 3 Frequency minerals and trace elements) Spring % Mg 30 g/m 2 1 application Summer % Mg 30 g/m 2 2 applications Autumn % Fe 30 g/m 2 1 application Herbicide: - Bastion T 3.0 litres/ha or Greenor 4.0 litres/ha once per year in alternate years to avoid resistance build-up. 20

21 Mowing: Season Frequency Cutting Height April - June 1 time per week 12 mm July September 1 time per week 10 mm October - March As required 15 mm Scarification: 2 times per year Aeration and surface drainage: - 10 times per year solid tine Overseed and top dress: -1 time per year Spiking: N/A Aprons and Surrounds (total area 0.48 hectares) Construction: 1, 2, 12 to 18: limited depth of soil and poor drainage; 3 to 11: rootzone for most with average drainage Grass species: - Poa annua (annual meadow grass), bents and fescue Fertiliser: - see greens table Herbicide: - N/A Fungicide see greens table Mowing: Season Frequency Cutting Height April - June 1 time per week 12mm July September 1 time per week 10mm October - March As required 15 mm Scarification: 1 time per year Aeration and surface drainage: - 10 times per year solid Switching and brushing: when cutting Overseed and top dress: - 1 time per year Spiking: N/A 21

22 8.2.4 Fairways (total area approximately 19.3 hectares) Construction: 1, 2 and 12 to 18 limited top soil drainage fair; 3 to 11 deeper top soil drainage fair to good Grass species: poa annua and ryegrass Fertiliser: 1 application of once per year at 70g per m 2 Herbicide: - Bastion T 3.0 litres/ha and Greenor 4.0 litres/ha alternate years Mowing: Season Frequency Cutting Height April - June 1 time per week 14mm July September 1 time per week 14mm October - March As required 18mm Aeration and surface drainage: Slit tining up to 20 times per year Reinstatement as required through out year Semi-rough (total area 12.6 hectares) Construction: as fairway construction Grass species: - as fairways Fertiliser: none Herbicide: same as fairways Fungicide: - none Mowing: Season Frequency Cutting Heights April - June 1 per fortnight 35mm July September 2 time per fortnight 35mm October - March N/A Irrigation policy The policy is one of minimum irrigation to support grass growth necessary to meet the aims stated at the start of Section 8. 22

23 Figure 5. Fife-wide course plan used for guidance on all council courses 23

24 8.3 Other course maintenance issues Bunkers There are 63 bunkers at Dora Golf Course. These are located at greens and fairways and vary in size and depth. The sand is from Fife Silica s Divilla Quarry at Alloa, and a medium to coarse type sand, of mainly rounded grain shape and white in colour. This allows free draining of the bunkers. Some bunkers have had drains added at refurbishment and new bunkers are built with drains in situ. They are raked by maintenance staff daily. Renovation work is mainly in the winter when they are edged up, weeded and repaired as necessary Woodlands and Trees in relation to golf Very little work is required on trees for golf reasons. Trees have been planted to separate adjacent fairways, so some trees in play will need maintenance for golf reasons as they mature but this is quite a long way off yet Pathways Recently paths have been surfaced with recycled red brick from Cook waste disposal operator and blinded with red tirr from Balmullo. This may be done at other wet locations round the course. Other paths are surfaced with recycled chipped bark over crushed brick bases eventually these will be upgraded with red tirr surfaces. There are no tar paths. There are a number of mown paths between some greens and tees. The Council are investigating whether golfers can continue to bring their own buggies subject to insurance disclaimers being developed. The car park is tarred and is maintained by Fife Council Course furniture There is a potential plan to develop a Fife style of course furniture to be installed at all Parks and Golf Courses. A decision has yet to be taken as to the type of materials to be purchased (e.g. re-cycled, natural, etc). All park benches bought by Fife Council West Area are already made of the recycled material, Enviropol. Presently at Dora Golf Course, the furniture is minimal and simple in style. None of it bears Fife Council or Club logos. Flags These have municipal plastic poles, currently with yellow (sometimes red) flags for all 18 holes, 1 practice green and 9 on the putting green. Tee markers Tee markers (112 in number) are made in house by Parks and Amenities staff, from hard wood. They are half round style with angled painted ends and a central spike ground anchor. The materials for these is most often material recycled from hard wood round tree stakes. Fairway markers There are about 2 fairway distance markers per fairway except the three par threes. They are made from stakes and located at the edge of the rough, dark-treated below, the top 6-8 inches painted blue for 100 yards or yellow for 150 yards to the green. 24

25 Bunker Rakes Coathanger bunker rakes are available at 12 heavy play bunkers, but proper rakes are only put out for certain competitions as they would get stolen otherwise. Ball washers The two ball washers used on the course are cast units of a style more favoured of larger courses, mounted on support poles and carry a mix of normal tap water and cleaning solution. Bins The general type at Dora Golf Course is a wooden slatted receptacle, pyramid style in shape with an open top 4 in number. Tee boxes are also used for collecting rubbish. Benches There is only one bench on the course at the 13 th tee. It is constructed of dark brown stained timber slats with a wooden frame concreted into the ground. Fife Council plans to develop a Fife style for all courses and is investigating what materials to use (e.g. recycled, natural). (All park benches bought by Fife Council West Area are made of recycled material Enviropol.) Signage There are very few signs on the course apart from direction markers with a metal plate on a post showing an arrow to the next tee. GUR signs etc are metal spikes with a wooden plaque and are used as and when needed. Trolley route signs have a metal plaque. 8.4 Grass cuttings and green waste Presently it is common practice to disperse grass cuttings rather than remove them from the course. This is done by broadcasting into rough grass areas, although in the past it was more normal to dispose in small piles throughout the course. There is still evidence of where this has occurred where nettles and willowherb predominate. Such dumping of grass results in significant local nutrient enrichment that changes the botanical composition of the site. An occasional nettle clump arising from such practices can be useful butterfly feeding in non-sensitive areas, but ideally dumping or dispersal of grass clippings in rough or natural vegetation is to be avoided other than locations which have been accepted as suitable, or sometimes sacrificed but still managed for the task. It is hoped that from April 2007 skips will be provided to take green waste for offsite composting. Thought is currently being put to the system of collection and uplift. 8.5 Outside Advice Although outside advice has been limited in the past this project will help to develop the course and advice will be sought from agencies and organisations like Scottish Golf Environmental Group, Hole 18 Ltd, Fife Council Environmental Services, etc. Other advice has been sought and accepted from fertiliser, chemical and golf supplies companies such as Rigby Taylor and STS. Machinery advice is occasionally sought from manufactures i.e., Ransomes, Toro, John Deere, and suppliers e.g., Double A and Henderson s Grass Machinery amongst others. 25

26 8.6 Vermin Control Vermin control (moles, rabbits) is done by a qualified employee. It is done with gas pellets (eg Talunex) considered more humane than traps. The last control was done three or four years ago. 8.7 Integrated Pest Management Fife Council is in effect operating an integrated approach to pest management by focussing on cultural and mechanical turf management techniques to promote plant health and reduce chemical usage over time. Current Pest and Disease Tolerance thresholds for action are shown in Appendix Greenkeeper Training Annually each employee has a staff development and appraisal meeting. This is crossreferenced to existing in-house initiatives and training opportunities to bring all staff in line with other council employees. Fife Council operates a green keeping training programme, which entails staff progressing through SVQ I to III. Staff are also trained in chemical spraying through PA1 (induction), PA2 (tractor mounted operations) and PA6 (knapsack spraying). Other training includes chainsaw use and first aid. View over newer part of the course 26

27 Figure 6. Dora Scorecard 27

28 9. Nature Conservation - Survey and Evaluation of Wildlife and Habitats: Fife Council s stated aim for Nature Conservation at Dora Golf Course is: Conserve and enhance the biodiversity of the golf course through ongoing, informed management of species and habitats and thereby contribute to the aims of the Fife Local Biodiversity Action Plan and other relevant initiatives. The information in this section is largely taken from the SGEG Summary Environmental Report 2006 (Appendix 8). This evaluation and associated recommendations will form the main basis of the future objectives and actions set out in Part Three of this Management Plan for Nature Conservation. 9.1 Habitat and Species Surveys No formal habitat or species surveys have been carried out at Dora through the Parks and Amenities Department. FERN will be contacted to find out if they have any records for the site. As with all resources, the most important step in management is to know what you have and understand its value. Only then can aims and objectives be set and management practices and projects actioned to achieve them. It would therefore be good at a fairly early stage in the management planning process to have the whole site surveyed both as a record of species present and a baseline against which to measure changes achieved through positive management in the years to come. A Phase 1 Habitat Survey would identify, map and describe the main habitats, giving dominant plant species and target notes about special value in each compartment. A Phase 2 Habitat Survey could subsequently be done to provide a more in depth detail for the most valuable areas, which would produce a comprehensive species inventory and DAFOR analysis to record relative populations. (DAFOR = Dominant, Abundant, Frequent, Occasional, Rare for the occurrence of each species in the compartments surveyed.) Whilst Phase 1 and 2 Surveys focus on plant species, surveyors usually compile anecdotal list of birds, mammals, amphibians and invertebrates they observe casually during their visit. It is also possible to do specialist surveys (eg birds, bats, butterflies, fungi) should that be wanted and there are many ways of getting these done (eg specialist surveyors, local ranger services, amateur naturalist groups etc). There are also alternative survey formats that surveyors might recommend instead. Phase 1 and 2 Habitat Surveys were carried out for the pilot courses, Dunnikier and Auchterderran, in It would be ideal if management could arrange for similar surveys to be carried out at Dora in 2007 if at all possible. As well as being of value for course management, such information is of great value to Local Biological Record Centres and the LBAP process, in which there are biodiversity targets also embraced within the TAPIF (Take a Pride in Fife) Strategy. Any survey data obtained for Dora should be passed to FERN central records system. 28

29 9.2 Fife LBAP (Local Biodiversity Action Plan) The way things have been developed in the Fife LBAP, golf courses are included in the Urban and Built Environment Habitat Action Plan (HAP). Golf Courses are therefore seen as being able to help meet Urban HAP targets. Perhaps there is scope to develop a Golf Course Project under the Urban HAP to guide private members and commercial as well as municipal courses in Fife in their biodiversity programmes. The long-term goals of Fife s Urban and Built Environment HAP most relevant to golf courses are: Protect urban sites important for wildlife from changes in land use Raise awareness amongst the general public of the importance and value of urban diversity Encourage communities to survey, plan and manage urban wildlife habitats Ensure the conservation and enhancement of wildlife is incorporated into the management of urban greenspace. Amongst the Target Actions in the Urban HAP most relevant to golf courses are: Identify suitable areas for urban biodiversity projects through consultation with communities and working with FERN to make use of data from recent urban habitat surveys Work with biodiversity partnership, businesses and other organisations to promote biodiversity and ways in which it can be integrated into business, eg through environmental management systems, action and development plans and practical management of their land Produce and implement landscape plans for the countryside around settlements a strategic action to be developed by Fife Council Development Service but the sort of thing individual golf courses could help deliver. As Fife Council s seven golf courses are so varied in their habitat composition, there is huge scope for them to contribute to the diversity and care of Fife s wildlife, with each course, including Dora, having a different and special role to play. The watercourses at Dora are currently fantastic areas for wildlife and perhaps Dora could be the Fife course to champion best practice management of watercourses, which will benefit important species such as Water Vole. 9.3 Main Habitats of Importance at Dora Golf Course The following notes give a broad and preliminary impression of the natural habitat resource that exists at Dora, an indication of some of the good and less good practices and achievements to date and some pointers as to what steps might be taken in the future. Habitat management is largely about providing opportunity for creatures various needs: feeding, resting, breeding, cover and safe passage. The bigger the area, the more connectivity and the better the compositional quality the more valuable the habitat will become to a wider range and greater populations of creatures. 29

30 Rough grassland There are already extensive areas of rough grassland at Dora, recently measured by GPS at hectares. There are good examples of fairway shaping using rough grass throughout the course, and an extensive unmanaged area of rough on the bronze age henge all contribute to the rough grassland resource. The first hole has a good margin of rough that separates the fairway from the adjacent woodland. Thought should be given to further replicating this around the course, and looking at opportunities for more expansion and linkage. Rough grassland, managed for wildlife, can often be beneficial to the golfer so this can be done in negotiation with them to work out positioning and shaping and a pace of change which suit their needs and concerns. Rough separates the fairway from the woodland at the 1 st hole For their success, wildflowers depend on the fine-leaved, slow growing grasses also desirable on the golf course. The thick, rank grassland that is undesirable for golf smothers wild flowers. Rough grass also provides much needed nest sites for birds such as Meadow Pipit and Skylark, both in decline nationally due to loss of habitat. The open expansive area on the henge will be less prone to disturbance and therefore the most likely to be good habitat for both species. Management for habitat reasons can also be good in landscape terms, as seen in the example below where the rough grass follows the contour of the land and the fairway, ensuring that it integrates with the overall landscape and blends in with the shape and character of the hole. 30

31 Here at the 1 st, shaped rough provides good habitat and helps enrich the appearance of the course and character of the hole. Management to enhance the biodiversity of grasslands can also enhance their landscape value by increasing the range of wildflowers they contain. Ideal management for wildflowers typically involves cutting in late summer after the flowers have set seed and nesting birds have left the area. It is vital that the cuttings are removed to avoid nutrient build up. Cuttings left on the surface will suppress germination of wild flower seed and increase the nutrient status of the soil encouraging ranker vegetation to establish. Such management can result in wildflower species, which were previously suppressed, in regenerating naturally. Alternatively, if there is little natural regeneration (this may be quite likely on reclaimed land depending on the sources of imported soils), wildflowers can be introduced. Sowing seed into an established sward is rarely successful, due to competition from more dominant grasses. However, planting wildflower plugs, available from wildflower suppliers, is usually more successful, providing the correct management regime is followed thereafter. Implementing such management in the existing rough at Dora will improve its quality. It will also provide the opportunity to extend the rough, through improving its playability e.g. an extra machine width of rough could be allowed to develop in less sensitive locations (away from landing zones) adjacent to fairways. Long rough grassland that is rarely or infrequently cut is also important and valuable wildlife habitat. It provides valuable habitat for many small mammals and invertebrates which in turn creates productive hunting grounds for birds of prey e.g. kestrel (recently put on the Amber List for species of conservation concern), buzzard, owls and predatory mammals such as foxes, weasels and stoats. Areas which incur less access, trampling and general disturbance by golfers are also safer refuges for wildlife. 31

32 Larger areas of rough grass where levels of disturbance from golfers and machinery are lower, such on the archaeological site, are very good long grass habitat. There are many opportunities at Dora to build on current good grassland practice. The amount and quality of rough grassland on the course could be increased without making the course too difficult for the higher handicap golfer. Opportunities can be sought through identification of out-of-play areas and by looking creatively at how the course plays. Carries in front of tees, through the greens and extending the current good practice of shaped / contoured fairways will all add character and challenge to the course, without necessarily adding too much difficulty or slowing up play. By reducing cutting frequency and chemical use in such areas it will be possible to reduce annual maintenance costs. This grassland will provide habitat for many species of flora, invertebrate and small mammals. Plantations Extensive areas of tree planting have been created at different times at Dora Golf Course. This has resulted is a good diversity of age classes throughout. Recent GPS mapping has shown there to be 13.9 hectares of young woodland on the new course extension (planted ) and hectares on the older original nine hole area, planted in the late 1980s with alnus and pinus to get a quick take and rapid establishment on the reclaimed land. Predominantly native species have been used which enhances the overall ecological value of the site. It has been recognised that management of these plantations is important and some thinning has been undertaken in some of the older plantations. In others, the plantations have been allowed to naturalise, rather than continually mowing beneath trees. This has led to the development of good quality, wildlife-friendly features. 32

33 Naturalised plantation. The Management Plan includes a rolling programme of woodland management. This will involve thinning the plantations at the appropriate age, monitoring for natural regeneration and if necessary under-planting to establish a good diversity of age and species within the plantations. Fife Council s Forestry Team will be consulted with regard to management, and if possible be involved in the physical management of the woodland resource. A rolling programme of plantation thinning is required. This plantation (left) was thinned recently, and regeneration from cut stumps is now coming through. This should be allowed to develop in order to create a good age diversity within the plantation, giving it better structure and good, long term sustainability. 33

34 Tree Planting As discussed in the previous section on plantations, much good quality tree planting has been carried out over the years at Dora. However there are areas that would benefit from re-evaluation of the style of planting e.g. copse planting rather than the scattered planting currently in certain places. There are also problems in places with the quality of individual specimen trees. Specimen trees There are several locations on the course where trees have developed odd or deformed growth patterns or have not thrived at all since planting, although no obvious causes have been specifically pinpointed. A number of possibilities could be responsible: Poor quality stock in the first place Bad handling at the time of planting Species not suited to soil conditions Golf ball strike Adverse soil conditions - is it possible that some areas could be contaminated with mining spoil? Soil compaction through the trafficking of frequent close mowing. The worst specimens are not worth trying to save. They are unlikely to thrive or to develop a better form in future. They could be replaced with whips, which will be much cheaper, and will also help determine if it is soil or golf ball strike that is the problem. If so, then it is probably pointless trying to establish trees in these hostile conditions, especially not expensive standard trees. If however they survive and thrive then it can be assumed that poor stock or handling were responsible at time of planting. Other species could also be trialled. Oak does not seem to do well on the site, but birch, alder, rowan, pine and ash all thrive and could be used. These poor quality oak specimens should be replaced with species known to do well on the site e.g. birch, alder, rowan, willow (in damp areas), pine, ash. Stunted, mis-shapen oak specimens 34

35 More mis-shapen specimens These trees have particularly strange growth patterns, and need to be removed or replaced. In this position gorse or broom would also be suitable species for replacement. Alternatively it could simply be managed as rough grassland. Underdeveloped cherry trees These cherries were planted as standards 7 years ago, but have never developed, although they do not appear to be unhealthy or deformed like the other examples show. Further tree planting Some planting habitat issues overlap with landscape issues. In terms of nature conservation, close spacing of tree planting is good practice as well as contributing more to the overall landscape. Close-planted copses will provide safer refuges and feeding areas for birds and will enhance the ability of many invertebrates to move between trees. Longer grass underneath trees will also enhance invertebrate populations and provide cover for small mammals such as voles and mice. Further details on how to achieve good quality copse planting are given in Section 10 of this Management Plan. Tree care Where possible, grass cutting between trees in the areas of new planting should be reduced or stopped. If necessary, trees can be individually spot treated or mulched to reduce competition with grass for water and nutrients during the establishment phase. Reduction of cutting removes the possibility of accidental damage to the young trees, through direct damage from cutters and strimmers. Machines also cause soil compaction, which removes air from the soil, damages the root systems and inhibits healthy growth. Forestry Commission research shows that regular cutting around young trees can severely damage the fine root hairs through vibration and compaction. This inhibits the trees ability to take in water and nutrients and slows their growth. In the longer term it makes the trees more susceptible to disease, drought stress and wind-blow. 35

36 New planting can be spot-weeded, or mulched from the beginning to reduce competition from the grasses. For new planting, an alternative to organic mulch is to use water-permeable mulch mats when the trees are first planted which will ensure they do not suffer from nutrient and water starvation. They are time-consuming to install in the first instance, but are a significant time saver in the long term. They also remove the need for use of herbicide application, and so reduce ongoing maintenance costs. Sections of new planting can be vulnerable to damage by golfers. Should a ball land in an area of new planting a golfer taking the shot can accidentally damage young trees with a club. Such areas can be protected by implementing a lift-and-drop zone around the area in which the trees are planted. Players can then take relief, without penalty. Such practice will naturalise the plantations and greatly enhance their wildlife value. They will also enhance the overall landscape value of the plantation by creating a much more natural feature. Staff time and wear and tear on machinery will also be much reduced, allowing resources to be targeted to higher priority tasks. Tree guards and stakes can be installed when planting whips to give protection for the first few vulnerable years against damage from browsing animals, machinery, some ball strike and the elements. Beyond that period stakes and guards can actually be detrimental to the healthy development of young trees. They can be over-supported when young and not develop wind firmness as they should. Stakes and guards should be removed once the trees are well established. These trees would benefit from removal of mowing. The base of this tree has been irretrievably damaged by mowing/strimming operations. The suckering is the tree s response to this life-threatening damage. 36

37 Watercourses The Foulford Burn that runs through the course provides excellent wildlife habitat. Riparian, ie riverside, habitat is important and valuable wildlife habitat. Rivers and burns create wildlife corridors and links throughout our countryside. There are actually quite a lot of watercourses and other water bodies in the area (including Loch Gelly, Loch Ore, Stenhouse Reservoir, the pond north of Lumphinnans and numerous burns) which collectively make a valuable local habitat resource. It is not just wildlife particularly associated with watercourses such as water vole, otter, fish species, birds such as dipper, kingfisher and ducks that benefit. Other birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians also use these corridors. The wildlife value of these features can be much enhanced by implementing simple management regimes. Positive Management of Watercourses Water quality is of the utmost importance. Efforts should be made to ensure that pollution, however insignificant it may seem, does not occur. Rivers and burns should not be used for disposal of any wastes. Even organic matter such as grass clippings or soil can adversely affect water quality. Obviously chemicals such as pesticides and fertilisers should be prevented from contaminating watercourses. Simple good practice management can enhance these habitats and prevent unintentional damage. There are a number of ways in which management can enhance habitat value and water quality. In out-of-play areas they should be allowed to develop a buffer zone of rough vegetation to intercept and filter any runoff from chemical applications. Buffer zones should extended to 5m where possible. No-spray zones should be established, further reducing the likelihood of accidental pollution. The standard legal requirement for no-spray zones is 3m from the edge of the watercourse (the edge is regarded as being the top of the banking, not the waters edge) Where watercourses have to be close mown to the edge, avoid grass clippings being spread into them, or remove as much as possible. The Nature Conservation Policies set out in Part Three of the Management Plan, should help to achieve these standards of practice as routine at Dora Golf Course. The abundance of long rough vegetation beside the burn is of particular value to Water Voles for cover and amphibians when they emerge from the water after spawning. Overhanging trees are valuable for species such as otter that like to create holt entrances in hidden spots and under overhangs. Water Voles are now very uncommon and a target species in the Fife Biodiversity Action Plan. Nationally their number has dropped by about 90% in the last ten years. Any work carried out for their benefit is to be commended. There is currently an ongoing project for Water Vole management happening in Fife. It is intended to contact the Fife Biodiversity Officer for further information, and to find out if there is any way in which the course could enhance existing habitat, and perhaps contribute to 37

38 the overall project. Ideally a survey should be carried out to determine the presence or absence of Water Voles on the site. Any golfers or walkers who sight water voles are requested to report the details (date, time, location, number) to the head greenkeeper. Potentially very good Water Vole habitat. Good cover and over hanging trees provide excellent riparian habitat. The current annual practice of vegetation cutting along the burn should really be discontinued. In wildlife term this is catastrophic as it removes the entire habitat at once. However where periodic maintenance is necessary to ensure that ditches function correctly and aid drainage then a structured approach to such management can reduce impact on wildlife populations. Care should be taken with the timing of such work. The spring and early summer (April to July) should be avoided for all wetland work and ditch maintenance, to avoid disturbance of breeding amphibians and invertebrates, and accidental destruction of spawn, larvae, nymphs etc. 38

39 Where possible, essential ditch maintenance should be carried out in sections over two to three years if possible, leaving the undisturbed sections as retreats for wildlife whilst work is being carried out. Where this is not possible, clearing only one bank at a time will also provide refuge for invertebrates and amphibians. Any cleared vegetation should be left on the bank for two or three days to allow any amphibians and invertebrates to return to the water. Some recommended patterns of management. Stagger distances and vary the size and shape of patches left to avoid an artificial and regimented look. It would also be of benefit to reduce mowing in the adjacent out of play grassland. This currently acts as a flood plain during periods of heavy rain at present, which is a very valuable function and helps protect adjacent playing surfaces from inundation. This rough grass flood plain protects the course as well as providing habitat. 39

40 Ponds Ponds are valuable, and often rich, habitats supporting a wide range of wildlife including invertebrates, amphibians, plants and many birds and animals. Throughout the UK ponds have declined due to pollution, drainage, infilling of farm ponds and development and industrialisation of areas that were once open countryside. Although Scotland has suffered less from pond loss and degradation than England it is still vital that our wetland habitats are protected and well managed. Golf Clubs can play a vital role in conserving ponds and their wildlife, through good management and, where possible and appropriate, by creating ponds and associated wetland habitat. There is one pond on the course that is good wildlife habitat, although there are some problems with it that need to be addressed. Wildlife pond, with excellent well-vegetated margins. Main problems to address: a) On several edges of the pond the liner has become exposed. In time this will lead to degradation of the liner through exposure to light, and will make it more vulnerable to physical damage both accidental and by vandalism. 40

41 b) Although there are shelves with marginal plants in place, these are quite narrow and the pond would benefit from widening of these. Once in place it is very difficult to move a liner. However, widening can be achieved by introducing material around the edges. Alternatively the exposed edge of liner could be pulled up and the soil beneath scraped away and then replaced, covered with soil and further marginal species planted. The exposed liner needs to be covered and the pond would benefit from widening of the marginal shelves. It would also be useful to list the main species present in the pond or ideally carry out a full pond survey. The recommended standard National Pond Survey methodology, developed by the specialist group Pond Action in 1998, would look broadly at plant, invertebrate and amphibian species and populations from which can be calculated a Species Rarity Index for the pond as an indication of its conservation status low, medium, high or very high. Otherwise specific species surveys (eg newts, water beetles, etc) and incidental/anecdotal records of use by mammals and bird are also useful in evaluating pond and wetland habitat value, as are water quality analyses (eg ph, BOD and NPK levels). Other than repairs to liners and so on, instigating pond management without some sort of survey or evaluation is unwise, as it means going into the process blindfold. With the best will in the world, this is how inadvertent damage can be done. 41

42 9.4 Linking Habitats within the Course Patch size, number and proximity are very important criteria in what is termed landscape ecology i.e. the collective functionality of individual and groups of habitats within any given area. As man has intensified land use operations over the last fifty to hundred years in particular, habitat patch size, number and proximity have reduced; fragmentation has occurred within and between similar and different habitat types and has contributed to the visible decline in the ecosystem at local, regional and national level. Besides increasing patch size, number and proximity, positive management needs to reverse fragmentation if old and new habitats are going to remain viable let alone function to best effect. In any given area, one way of achieving this is to create some form of linkage between the patches that do exist. The whole notion of linkage is based on facilitating access for creatures and even mobility for some plant species between habitat areas for different seasonal, behavioural or other needs, population dispersal, finding new territories, escape from danger, competition, shortages and much more. Most evidently this relates to small terrestrial creatures like voles, shrews and mice, which do not like crossing bare earth or short grass as they have no cover, and this principle applies similarly to terrestrial invertebrates. However, continuous rough means more efficient hunting and feeding for owls, hedgehogs, foxes, badgers etc as they don t have so much wasted terrain to cross in the process, and their chances of coming across food go up. Even bats can benefit from linkage. For them, hedges and occasional trees between main feeding areas provide important landmarks for echo-location, enabling them to go further in their search for food than they would with no landmarks. Although linkage is good in places, eg. rough grass amongst some of the plantations, there are a number of ways and places in which linkage can be improved upon. The most obvious and arguably easiest means of achieving this is to allow long rough to develop under and around many more copses and other areas planted with trees and in particular, identifying where it can be allowed to connect with neighbouring areas. Examples include: Stopping the annual vegetation clearance along the burn Reshaping existing rough and shaping new rough to incorporate isolated trees The best way of identifying opportunities for developing a meaningful network of linked habitat corridors around the site is to walk round the course with that in mind and then map the possibilities and consult with greenstaff and golfers as to where might be feasible and where to try first. Fife Council s GIS mapping facility will provide a very useful base for mapping priorities and achievements. The Countryside Ranger Service or SGEG could perhaps help with this exercise. Recommendations internal linkage Map habitats to show existing linkage within the course Identify opportunities for creating new linkage that make sense in habitat and golf terms such as those suggested above Implement prioritised programme to introduce new linkages over time 42

43 9.5 Linkage with surrounding habitats and landuses Whilst the main management interest and responsibility relate to the golf course, an important aspect to good environmental management is recognising the part the golf course plays in the wider landscape and being aware of issues and landuses in the surrounding area and considering how wildlife might use features on the golf course in the context of their wider habitat range. Just as surrounding landuses and developments can have an impact on the golf course, whether in great or small degree, so can actions on the golf course impact on neighbouring land. As much as possible should be done to avoid or minimise any negative impacts, and sometimes steps can be taken within the golf course to enhance the relationship with adjoining land. Complementary diversity is at the heart of both habitat and landscape quality, and the golf course plays a very valuable role in the overall mosaic of the area because it is different from the other landuses round about. The main types of surrounding landuse are amenity woodland, mixed agriculture and urban development both residential and industrial. To properly assess the interconnectivity between the golf course and the wider still landscape, it would be useful to examine more wide ranging OS maps or exploit local knowledge amongst greenstaff to see what tracks, disused railway lines, watercourses or similar corridors that link the course habitats into the deeper countryside. The section on Watercourses above already cites the significant collective local habitat contribution of numerous nearby lochs, ponds and burns and those on the Dora itself. Whether or not enhanced physical linkage is an option, close working within the course to the biodiversity priorities of the Fife LBAP will nonetheless strengthen the relationship between the course and the land round about it. Recommendations external linkage Map habitats to show linkage between course and significant external habitat areas Identify opportunities for creating new linkage or strengthening existing boundaries Identify opportunities for improving practices within the golf course to the benefit of neighbouring habitats Implement programme to effect a strengthening of the relationship between the golf course and the surrounding land and habitats 9.6 Other Actions for Dora to consider General Dora will certainly play host to a wide range of animal species, all of which will use the various habitats that exist on the course in a variety of ways at different times of the day and season. Whilst managers and greenstaff can do a great deal generally by recognising, protecting, creating and managing habitats, such as in the ways described throughout this report, another approach is to think of key species and undertake specific actions to enhance or supplement existing habitats specifically for them. These kinds of 43

44 actions can be rewarding and enjoyable for staff, members, visitors, local naturalists and walkers etc. and moreover can make a contribution to the aims of LBAPs. It is always, however, important to understand the purpose of any action and to construct and locate specific features appropriately. Ideas include: bird boxes (various designs for blue tits and tree sparrows, robins and wagtails, treecreepers, kestrels, swallows, swifts, barn owls and tawny owls) scope for some of these types at Dora; seek advice from Ranger Service, local birders or SGEG bird feeding station bat boxes hedgehog dens mini-beast houses mining/other bee niches bumble bee boxes rock piles wood piles sowing native wildflower seeds or planting plugs Some of these are actions that local schools or volunteer groups might be able to help with, a good way of connecting the course and local community in a positive way. There are numerous ways the course can link in with wider initiatives such as the Fife Local Biodiversity Action Plan or with surveys or projects led by RSPB, SWT (Scottish Wildlife Trust), Scottish Squirrel Survey or SOC (Scottish Ornithologists Club). In this way, the course and its management can actively become part of the wider environmental and educational endeavour in the region. Further details of these and other organisations are given in Section B of the SGEG Summary Environmental Report (Appendix 8) Fife-specific There are a number of species in the Fife LBAP which may have particular relevance to Dora, some of which are listed below. barn owl bullfinch bumblebee common frog grey partridge linnet pipistrelle bat skylark song thrush common toad It would be well worth considering what sort of actions might be taken to assist these species. For example, barn owls will benefit from continuous and generous long rough. Bumble bees might use manmade boxes or upturned terracotta plant pots for 44

45 over-wintering and FERN is looking for help with recording these highly familiar but vulnerable insects. Frogs and toads will benefit from the provision of rock and woodpiles close to the burn and in nearby woodland. There may be other Fife LBAP species worth discussing with FERN or the Countryside Ranger Service in terms of a possible small role for Dora. Although some species are doing very well in our natural environment, there are a great many old favourites which have been suffering serious decline in recent years. Dora could perhaps choose to act in ways to improve habitats for these species. In the Fife Wildlife Recorder produced by FERN for 2004 indicates the following species are in decline in Fife: yellowhammer willow warbler wren swallow starling robin lapwing house sparrow house martin great tit greenfinch collared dove blackbird song thrush Many of these use scrub and trees (yellowhammer, warblers, wrens, robins, tits, finches, sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes) or grassland habitat (starlings, skylarks, lapwing) whilst fairways often attract swallows and martins for wide open feeding spaces. Again, the Management aims to benefit some of these species. Bird surveys can monitor resident, summer/winter visitors, breeding or spring/autumn passage migrants. Bird surveys are both interesting and very useful in evaluating the importance of a site for birds. SOC might be able to help by putting Dora in touch with local birders who might be interested in adding the site to their recording circuit or a local enthusiast who might be keen to do informal survey work for the course. Several species of butterfly appear to be expanding their northern range, perhaps due to the effects of global warming. Dora would like to take steps to benefit these welcome visitors. Nettle patches could be retained, or areas found where they could be encouraged, which could be used by several butterfly species for egg laying, being a key foodstuff for the caterpillars. Staff, members and walkers are invited to contribute to Fife s wildlife recording processes. One way would be to use the FERN wildlife recording sheet. (See Appendix 9.) It should be noted that FERN has recently been renamed as TAPIFEN (Take A Pride In Fife Environmental Network) in a move which links all relevant initiatives to the Take A Pride In Fife (TAPIF) Strategy. 45

46 10. Landscape and Cultural Heritage - Assessment and Evaluation: Fife Council s stated aims for Landscape and Cultural Heritage at Dora are: Based on research of the landscape qualities of the golf course, to ensure that actions are evaluated with regard to their potential impact on the character of the golf course and its surrounds. To acknowledge the importance of the area's archaeology and landscape history and, through appropriate advice, undertake sensitive management. The information in this section is largely taken from the SGEG Summary Environmental Report 2006 (Appendix 8) with some subsequent considerations by DEG in addition. This evaluation and associated recommendations will form the main basis of the future Objectives and Actions set out in Part Three of this Management Plan for Landscape and Cultural Heritage. Landscape 10.1 Landscape Management Part of good integrated management of the golf course will be landscape management and the first step in this process is recognition of what makes up the landscape and history of the site, the landscape character of the site as a whole and any distinct features, views and zones within it. Evaluation of these landscape parameters in both historic and current terms will help identify and tailor subsequent practices and actions which protect and enhance and do not damage or destroy the very landscape character and features that make the course what it is. The golf course is bounded to the west by the town of Cowdenbeath, to the north by the B981 through Lumphinnans and Lochgelly, to the south by the main A92 to Kirkcaldy and to the east by open farmland. The topography of the course is fairly flat with little undulation. The highest point is 130m. The course falls away from this in all directions to a low of 120m. The overall feel is fairly flat with no obvious high point besides the railway embankment carrying the right of way. The central and western area of the course feels more enclosed because of the mature woodland, this being the location of the original nine holes. Although the newer section to the north and east currently feels open, this is likely to change over time as the more recent woodland planting there matures. Overall, with a few exceptions, the tree planting is native and as it matures in successive places will give an overall natural feel to the course. The course is gradually changing in character from woodland/parkland to a predominantly woodland character. The map below shows where the main areas of woodland lie on the golf course, including some additions to the baseline OS map. Dispersed tree planting is indicated by green dots. The pond site is also indicated on this map in blue and the Henge site in mustard yellow. 46

47 Figure 7. Woodland cover in Dora landscape Source: OS Getamap website Woodland plantations Dispersed planting Pond Henge grassland Grassland is the other main vegetation impacting on the landscape at a large scale. The managed playing surfaces are seasonally more uniform. The rough grassland provides the more natural landscape effect. Grassland settings and fringes for woodlands definitely helps naturalise their appearance (as well as enhance their habitat value. Open grassland is also a valuable part of the Dora landscape. The area of grassland at the Henge site will always remain open as Scheduled Ancient Monument designation prohibits tree planting or other damaging development. The only local place from where there are clear views into the course is the B981, although the perimeter woodlands are visible from several vantages round about. Views out from the course, particularly long views, are fairly limited, being enclosed by woodland or housing in all directions. 47

48 10.2 Landscape Character Landscape character is a way of describing what it is that makes a particular area look and feel intrinsically different to another. It can be simple or complex for a given site and assessed both in general terms and in detail. In Dora s case, in general terms, its landscape character could be broadly defined as parkland, developed from former open cast mining and agricultural use situated between the urban edge, old established woodland and current agricultural land use. Due to the undramatic topography of the surrounding countryside, very little of that external landscape is visible from the course. Although the motorway (A92) is close enough to be heard, it is largely not visible, which is a positive attribute for the course. Despite proximity to Cowdenbeath, the course is well screened by the woodland and the town does not impact on the feel of the course. However the immature woodland to the north has not sufficiently developed to screen the urban impact of Lumphinnans and the west end of Lochgelly. This will change as the trees mature, increasing the feeling of seclusion within the course. Although gradual in its effect, it will also impact on views across the course from houses in Lumphinnans and Lochgelly, which may or may not please all residents. There may be a case in the longer term for leaving or creating views in here and there. When defining and describing the landscape, the principle of landscape character zones can be used to define the different characters within a given area. An initial effort in assessing the Dora landscape on this basis has been made by the Dora Golf Course Environment Group (DEG). The suggested Landscape Character Zones are listed below and is shown on the following aerial photograph. Suggested Landscape Character Zones 1) The Approach 2) The Drive 3) Clubhouse Zone 4) Wetland Zone 5) Urban Zone 6) Farmland Zone 7) Secluded Zone 8) High Zone 9) Right of Way Corridor 48

49 Figure 8. Suggested Landscape Character Zones at Dora Golf Course 49

50 The main features and characteristics of the zones identified above are: 1. The Approach Not part of the course itself, but an important element in the landscape experience of golfers heading for a round of golf at Dora. It could be described as a back street approach but well signposted with key features including a tidy, quaint row of timber houses, but also the less visually appealing Thistle industrial estate, formerly NCB workshops. 2. The Drive Starting with an obviously deliberately designed gateway, giving a quite impressive entrance and drive, a pleasant surprise on first sight and creating a sense of anticipation after the back street approach. Nice planting, maturing well. 3. The Clubhouse Zone A compact zone comprising the clubhouse and the inauspicious but low-impact maintenance facility. The portacabin in the maintenance compound, as anywhere, implies convenience and economy over landscape considerations, so is not a positive contribution to the look of this zone. The contemporary brick-built, tile-roofed clubhouse has reasonable landscape appeal not special but fine enough. The gasometer and security fence give away the secret that this is an urban location, but possibly, consciously or subconsciously, reinforce the enjoyment of escape to a lovely natural environment once the round of golf begins. Maturing trees on the slope behind the security fence will make its appearance less stark in the summer when in leaf. The coal wagon feature provides a good visual link to the mining heritage of the site. The recycling centre is an excellent environmental facility. Never a very pretty feature, a smarter screening or enclosure would improve its appearance here. The car park is tarred and is maintained by Fife Council. 4. Wetland Zone This character zone is full of features associated with water and damp ground. It has an enclosed feel, being surrounded with alder plantations. The burn which flows through the practice area is then piped under the 1 st fairway. It emerges again as a well-vegetated open ditch down the side of 2 nd fairway, beside which there is extensive long rough. 5. Urban Zone This landscape character zone has an open landscape, with young boundary plantations and internal planting of mixed native species. Lumphinnans Road, traffic and housing feature strongly. The Gasometer is visible from various vantage points in this zone. Despite its title, the Urban zone has quite a lot of natural wildlife features, including a well-vegetated pond in a low gully, connected to an open ditch by an outlet pipe. There are also large expanses of long rough including the Henge site which have considerable landscape impact. Some internal plantings are currently too sparse however, giving them a weak landscape impact. 6. Farmland Zone This part of the course has a mixed farmland setting. It is still fairly open. The A92 is visible from this zone, from which there is variable but not serious noise pollution. One of the Rights of Way bounds this zone. The fairways are damp most of year, 50

51 especially the 10 th. Newton Farm (now only residential) is becoming increasingly screened by maturing trees. The planting is still young but maturing faster than in Zone 5 and beginning to have fair degree of landscape impact. The zone will gradually have a less open feel as the trees mature. 7. Secluded Zone This zone contains the largest plantation, which is mainly coniferous. It was probably planted about 1970 before the golf course was constructed. It provides the dominant visual impact in the zone. The more enclosed feeling in this zone is however mainly due to the lower lie of the land. The internal woodlands here do however provide strong fairway separation. The 14 th hole is the most enclosed part of the course. There is a mature woodland feel to this part of the course with linear fringing of long rough along woodland edges. 8. High Zone This area occupies a sort of plateau above the wetland zone. It is a long zone which gives the effect of a more open area than Zone 7 but still with a strong woodland framework. The adjacent industrial estate is well screened by woodland. The clubhouse area is visible so the gasometer is a bit of a blot on the landscape here. 9. Right of Way Corridor This is a distinctly linear zone where the Right of Way follows the top of the old railway embankment. There is dense planting on both sides along the 1 st and 2 nd holes, giving it an enclosed feeling initially, after which it opens up the rest of its length. Given its elevation, it provides views out across the golf course and over to Lumphinnans Road Summary of landscape management advice received to date As mentioned in the SGEG Summary Environment Report 2006 (Appendix 8), one issue specifically highlighted has been the style of tree planting used in certain parts of the course. Whilst the style of planting in the structural woodlands has been generally very good, the design in some areas, particularly between fairways, has not been effective in either landscape or habitat terms. Trees have been used to provide definition and separation between the fairways. However the scattered nature of the planting lacks structure and density and does not achieve that objective very well. It is also at odds with the overall landscape both within and outwith the golf course. The successful plantings within the course have a much more natural character, blending well with the surrounding landscape. The scattered planting and overmanicured maintenance régime, in places, only serve to emphasise the recent nature of the planting, which will never develop the more mature and attractive character seen elsewhere on the course and in the surrounding countryside. Instead of the scattered planting already in place, it is recommended that copses of trees are planted, preferably at much closer spacing (an average but randomised 2m spacing is ideal). It is worth considering carefully the positioning of copses of trees to ensure that they are not placed within or close to landing zones, as it is then inevitable that conflict will arise and damage will continue to be inflicted. If carefully placed, series of copses can give the impression of a continuous band of trees separating adjacent fairways when viewed from the tee, and if designed carefully they can be 51

52 used to shape the holes, and create the level of challenge required. Copses will provide the same level of definition given by a continuous band of planting, but can be designed to reduce conflict and enhance the survival and health of the individual trees. Scattered planting and over-manicured maintenance lacks structure. Indicative examples of how copse planting could be placed to provide definition, alongside creating attractive landscape features. Avoid placing copses close to landing zones, and aim to allow rough grass to develop. 52

53 These observations led to the following landscape management recommendations. The very scattered tree planting is out of place and needs to be pulled together with further planting and rough grass development. Straight lines should be broken up and copses used in preference for the purposes of defining/separating fairways. The need for replacement planting for existing feature trees plus planting of additional feature trees Grasslands are also significant in the Dora landscape, in particular the Bronze Age henge. As mentioned in Section 9 on Nature Conservation, positive management in extending, shaping and enhancing the biodiversity of rough grasslands is effective in landscape management terms as well as habitat terms. Policy and practice of using predominantly native species has paid off in creating a natural course character Greenkeeping Practices The landscape is made up of numerous things large and small scale, horizontal and vertical, natural and manmade, permanent and temporary features and is affected in other ways such as time of day, seasonality, and weather. On golf courses, there are lots of greenkeeping practices which also have a bearing on how the course looks, which can be positive or negative. Examples include mowing (contour mowing, staged cutting heights, mowing pattern, etc), choice of golf course furniture (tee markers, bins, benches etc), shape and scale of mounding, tee design, construction and management, bunker design and sand colour, path surfacing and so forth. The more consistent, simple and natural options are generally the more harmonious in the landscape. Useful information and guidance on this found in the SGEG publication Landscape Guidelines for Golf Course Development Future Landscape Management A Landscape Appraisal by a Council or external landscape architect (or similar) would be able to confirm whether the Landscape Character Zones identified and described above are appropriate and then help specify how the different parts of the course merit different landscape management to maintain landscape diversity around the course as a whole. 53

54 Cultural Heritage 10.6 Site History and Evolution The main cultural heritage interest of the site is twofold. Its recent industrial heritage, being once part of the active coal mining industry of Fife Its prehistoric/archaeological heritage, the other feature of interest on site being the Bronze Age henge located in the centre of the newer half of the course in Landscape Character Zone 5, the Urban Zone Post 1970 Prior to the 1970, the entire site was farmland. West Fife having been a linchpin in the Scottish deep coal mining industry since the late 19 th century, open cast coal mining began here in 1970s and finally came to an end at Dora in the same decade. Part of the agreed restoration programme between Fife Council and British Coal. included the construction of a municipal nine-hole golf course, complete with clubhouse and maintenance facility, which was completed and opened for play in The plan had been to extend the course if money became available and so with swansong input of Dunfermline District Council funding in 1995, just prior to Local Authority reorganisation, the course was extended and realigned to a full 18 holes in The scorecard layout below has been used to show the route of the original nine holes alongside the present layout. Original 9 holes Figure 9. Original nine hole layout (Present holes 1, 2 and 12 to 18) 54

55 Figure 10. Current 18 hole layout 1998 to present day Club history and evolution Cowdenbeath Golf Club has about 140 members including juniors. The Club built and own the clubhouse, and renovated it in time for the opening of the second nine holes, using Lottery funding and other grants. The Club is therefore fully responsible for the clubhouse operation and upkeep. The clubhouse comprises lounge bar, locker rooms and office accommodation. Local Settlements The adjacent towns and villages of Cowdenbeath, Lumphinnans and Lochgelly have strong coal mining heritage. The following information was obtained from the Fife Gazetteer website Cowdenbeath A former mining town in W Fife, Cowdenbeath (pop. approx 12,000) lies to the southwest of Lochgelly on the railway line from Dunfermline to Cupar. Originally a small agricultural settlement with a coaching halt on the route north to Perth, Cowdenbeath expanded rapidly with the development of the W Fife iron and coal fields between 1850 and The population grew during this period from 1000 to 25,000 but declined to its present level following the pit closures of the 1960s. Cowdenbeath now supports a wide range of light industries, including engineering, textiles, food processing, construction and plant hire on its Woodend, Glenfield and Thistle industrial estates and the town is a focal point of coach bus communications. There is a Community Leisure Centre, Community Education Centre, Vocational Training Centre and a stock car racing circuit (Cowdenbeath Racewall). 55

56 Lumphinnans A former mining town in W Fife, situated between Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly, population 560. The lands of Lumphinnans were first mentioned in a charter of 1242, but the town owes its existence to the development of the local mines by the Cowdenbeath Colliery Co. Lochgelly A former coal mining town in W Fife, located on a ridge between Loch Ore and Loch Gelly. Lying on the railway line linking Dunfermline with Dundee, Lochgelly (population approx 7,000) was once a small agricultural market centre. It prospered as a mining town between the granting of mineral rights to the Lochgelly Iron and Coal Company in the 1830s and the closure of local pits in the 1960s. Lochgelly is the highest town in Fife and was designated a burgh in 'The Lochgelly' was the name once given to the locallymanufactured leather belt or tawse used to beat school children. Lochgelly has a modern community high school built in 1986, a community centre (1976), an 18-hole golf course and an industrial estate (Cartmore) with industries that include engineering, sawmilling, the manufacture of animal feed and rubber goods, and the supply of building materials. 56